Creating a Memory
Although the exact mechanisms are not known, the three main processes involved in human memory are encoding, storage, and recall. Encoding is the crucial first step which requires events to be perceived through the senses. To do this, a person must pay attention to the event. Storage is the process of retaining the information. If the information is repeated and retained, it is fare more likely to remain in long-term memory. Finally, in order to be of value, a memory must retrievable. Recall involves re-accessing the memories stored in the brain.
Seems easy enough, right? Although many memories happen without effort – simply because some events are “memorable” – other things, such as information in textbooks, can be a little less easy to retain. This is where you come in. A few simple memory tricks can help you to create memories deliberately.
Say It Out Loud
If you are an auditory learner, it may help you to hear information said out loud.
There are many ways to do this. You could make a recording and playing it back to yourself, or just repeat the material over to yourself many times. It may help to explain the concepts to a friend. If you can’t explain it using your own words, you probably don’t understand it! If you are creative, put the concepts into rhymes or even a rap song. Even just reading the material aloud will help an auditory learning retain information.
If you are a visual learner, try converting information into something you can see. Put abstract ideas into a picture or a diagram. This method works best if it draws on concepts you already know. Focus on relationships between concepts. Make flashcards, posters, maps, or even a film or video which convey concepts you wish to learn.
Get your ZZZs!
Believe it or not, more time spent studying can actually be detrimental to your learning if it cuts into your sleep time. Studies show that sleep has a huge impact on learning and memory.
Research has found that sleep plays a role in declarative memories. In one study, individuals involved in intense study of fact-based information were observed to have an increase in rapid eye movement sleep (or REM). Research has also found that REM sleep plays a role in procedural memory. That is, remembering how to do something. Conversely, a lack of sleep can lead to poor decision-making and has consequences for learning.
[Optional] Call Upon Greek Deity Mnemosyne
When all else fails, ask Mnemosyne for support. According to Greek legend, Mnemosyne is the daughter of Titans Uranus and Gaea and mother to the nine Muses. In ancient Greece, speakers would call upon her to aid in accurately remembering and performing poems they were about to recite. She appears in the first few lines of many oral epic poems, including both the Iliad and the Odyssey.